Film Review: Broken Diamonds

Film Review: Broken Diamonds title=
Yvette Nicole Brown and Ben Platt in "Broken Diamonds" (courtesy image)
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By edhat staff

Directed by Peter Sattler
Written by Steve Waverly
Starring Ben Platt, Lola Kirke, Yvette Nicole Brown, Lynda Boyd, Alphonso McCauley
Country: USA
Festival Section: Independent Competition
World Premiere

Broken Diamonds follows the story of a twenty-something aspiring writer, Scott, whose dreams are interrupted when he's forced to take care of his mentally ill sister, Cindy.

The film showcases great talent including award-winning Ben Platt (Dear Even Hansen, Pitch Perfect) playing the lead of Scott, Lola Kirke (Mozart in the Jungle) as Cindy, and Yvette Nicole Brown (Community) as the sibling's step-mother named Cookie.

The film opens with Scott preparing to leave for Paris to focus on his writing when he learns of his father's sudden passing. He's then left to handle the sale of his father's home but needs his sister to sign off on it as it was left to both of them. 

Throughout Scott's scrambled preparation to leave the country he finds himself being the main caretaker and point of contact for his sister, who's living in a mental health facility and suffering from schizophrenia. The film digs into their childhood traumas and how it continues to affect them in different ways.

It's difficult to accurately portray mental health diseases in film without stereotyping, but the writing and acting seem to get it right in this one. Kirke's portrayal depicts the real-life struggle of someone whose disease can gently vacillate between high functioning and being completely consumed.

Moving beyond the afflicted character, the viewer also gets a deeper look at how this disease greatly affects surrounding family and loved ones. Platt's portrayal of a caring yet distant brother is moving and grounded.

The film is written by Steve Waverly and is based on his true-life story about taking care of his older sister who suffers from schizophrenia. All of that is evident in how realistic the events are coupled with the raw emotion provided by the actors.

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will take place March 31st through April 10th, 2021 online and at two free ocean-front drive-in theatres. More information, festival passes and tickets are available at www.sbiff.org.

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